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Despite romantic stories of down-on-one-knee proposals, most couples these days just decide together that it's time to get engaged. If you're at that point, or almost there, here are some things to think about before an engagement:
-- Why are you getting married?
-- What do you both envision for your life together?
-- Do you want children? If so, how many? Will one of you quit or cut back on work to raise them?
-- Do you want to live in the city? Country? Abroad?
-- What are your joint financial goals? How are you going to reach them?
-- How do you plan to balance "couple time" with "independent time"?
It's entirely likely that you will disagree on one or more of these issues. Having these discussions now, speaking honestly and making agreements in consensus, may save you a great deal of trouble after the marriage.
Frequently, the process of planning a wedding brings out differences in the ways you handle conflict, family expectations, household responsibilities, and social obligations. These, too, are opportunities for shared learning and growth (or, in extreme cases, signs that you should walk away now).